If eyes are the windows to the soul, I think feet may be the doorway to all understanding. That revelation came to me recently when I was in the front pew of my parish church in upstate New York. I was kneeling after Communion and didn’t want to look toward the altar as I prayed because doing so would have felt intrusive to those receiving Communion just a few feet away. So, I looked down at the floor in front of me. Read more
When we returned from a weeklong family trip to Rome, several friends asked me to name the one monumental moment from the trip, the standout thing that made the visit.
Was it seeing our son, Noah, for the first time since he had left months before to study abroad?
Was it bringing our entire family to the pope’s Easter Mass?
Was it taking Olivia and Chiara to view Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel? Read more
A few weeks ago, I took my daughter, Olivia, to see a production of “Les Miserables” in a beautiful old theater not far from our home. The show had been a favorite of mine back in the 1980s, when I worked in Manhattan and had the chance to see it twice on Broadway, so I was excited to share the experience with Olivia, who has a bit of the Broadway bug. Read more
I stood in the upstairs hallway of our home recently, hugging my 12-year-old daughter, who was finally expressing outwardly the fears that must have been churning inside her for a day or so in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting. I held her and told her that it was okay to feel sad and scared. I wished I could tell her this was something she didn’t need to fear, but I knew that would be a lie, so I told her, “You’re safe here with us tonight.” Because the truth is I cannot promise her that she will be safe in her school or at the mall or at a concert. Those days are gone, and it stuns me to admit that horrifying fact. Read more
I am not in the regular rotation when it comes to walking our rescue dog, Jake, especially at night. Dennis and Olivia handle most of the dog-walking duties in our household. But one recent Saturday night, with Dennis out of town with Chiara for a gymnastics competition and Olivia already one walk in for the day, I leashed up our pup and headed out into the cold, black night. Before I even stepped off the porch, I wanted to be done and back inside with a hot cup of tea warming my hands. I tugged at Jake’s leash and impatiently tried to move him along as he lingered too long, sniffing at twigs and snow mounds, street posts and trash cans. Then, as we rounded the corner, I finally lifted my gaze from the snow-covered asphalt and found myself face to face with Orion the Hunter overhead in the winter sky. Read more
I was recently sitting in a log-cabin chapel on a beautiful lake in the lower Adirondack Mountains when the woman next to me offered a prayer intention during Mass: “For all those in the process of dying.” Although I had a dear friend who would die that very night and for whom we had been praying throughout the weekend retreat, I heard those words not only in relation to my dying friend but in relation to myself and to all those around me, because we are all in the process of dying. Read more
When I was young, I bought into the notion that I was not good at art, that we were not good at art, as if it were possible to classify an entire gene pool as bad at any particular thing. But the truth is that I was writing songs and my own version of poetry long before I hit high school. And although I didn’t think of it as such at the time, it was art, even if it was not the still-life-on-canvas type of art we might imagine when we hear the word. Read more
I was driving to Rochester last week to give a talk to the local chapter of Magnificat, and I decided to make the trip into a mini-retreat of sorts. I brought along a recording by renowned theologian and writer Henri Nouwen called “The Spirituality of Waiting.” It wasn’t a new talk for me, but I decided it was time for a refresher, since waiting is not one of my strong suits. Read more
Here’s the Life Lines column I wrote 15 years ago, in the days following 9/11. So much has changed since that time. Our world has changed. My family has changed. And yet, for me, this column still resonates with things that feel very much in tune with our world right now. Here’s wishing all of you, all of us a future of peace — peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, peace on our planet. Read more
This Life Lines column was originally intended to be my last. It was 15 years ago this month that I wrote my first column for Catholic New York, and this seemed like a nice tidy way to bring things to a close. Plus, as you may recall from last month’s column on humility, I thought I had nothing left to say. Then a few things happened to make me rethink that plan. Read more